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the middleman - we don't just break the rules, we have rules named after us! [Sep. 2nd, 2008|04:10 pm]
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my friends - sometimes the culture gods reward you even when the ratings gods will not...today on NPR's "all things considered," the middleman was not only cited as one of the few shows on television that adheres to "the bechdel rule" but also as THE show that got them talking about the bechdel rule as an indicator of a tv show's quality!

named after eisner award-winning graphic novelist allison bechdel, the rule indicates bechdel's personal preference to only watch films featuring 1. at least two female character who... 2. talk to each other about... 3. ...something besides a man.

a similar rule, named after the st. petersburg times tv critic eric deggans, compliments a show for having 1. at least two non-white characters in the main cast... 2. ...in a show that is not about race.

in the context of the landscape of television, it's clear why the bechdel and deggans rules are interesting indicators: few shows - even in our multi-cultural age of gender empowerment - truly portray characters of varying races whose concerns actually echo those of real people..."the middleman" even as a wacky sci-fi show, manages to showcase characters whose ethnicities and gender (as reflected in their search for love) are not the ne plus ultra of their entire being.

further doing honor to our happy little show, the culture warriors of npr have coined a rule from the middleman's own natalie morales...the "morales rule" applies to the non-strereotypical portrayal of latinos in television, citing shows in which 1. no one calls anyone "papi'... 2. ...no one dances to salsa music... and 3. no gratuitous spanish...

...and while i have been known to call my father "papi" on a regular basis, i certainly prefer my latino characters to be simply characters, instead of signifiers of their own ethnicity...hence wendy watson.

here's a snippet, from NPR's pop culture blog about the bechdel rule:

The Middleman: Follows the Bechdel Rule so well that it was the reason we began talking about the rule here at NPR. Mind-boggling: It's science fiction — that traditional fortress of geek-maledom — but the character we identify with is a young woman. (And an artist.) She talks to her roommate about art events, vegan protests and their mothers; they're concerned with politics and creativity as well as boyfriends. "I know that the hot show on ABC Family right now is The Secret Life of the American Teenager," says NPR editor Sara Sarasohn, "but if my daughter were a teenager, I'd be making her watch The Middleman every week." Bonus: By default it follows the Morales Rule, because Natalie Morales plays the lead.

and here's a link to the original NPR story!
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: spectralbovine
2008-09-02 11:18 pm (UTC)

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named after eisner award-winning graphic novelist allison bechdel, the rule indicates bechdel's personal preference to only watch films featuring 1. at least two female character who... 2. talk to each other about... 3. ...something besides a man.
Waaaaait a second, that's her!! I just read Fun Home, which I highly recommend. It's great.

That's an awesome mention, Javi, and totally deserved.
[User Picture]From: infinityshark
2008-09-02 11:19 pm (UTC)

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And thus, the Middleman TV series goes down in Legend...
[User Picture]From: theartofdreams
2008-09-02 11:21 pm (UTC)

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I so used The Middleman as a shining example of a story that passes the Bechdel test in a blessay I wrote a few weeks ago. Uncanny!
[User Picture]From: qkellie
2008-09-02 11:22 pm (UTC)

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I couldn't be happier to think Natalie now has her own rule. So much love for this show for all these reasons and more. Bravo!
[User Picture]From: rimwalker
2008-09-02 11:23 pm (UTC)

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BOOYAH!
[User Picture]From: michelf
2008-09-02 11:34 pm (UTC)

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Those quotes just totally put into words why I like the show so much.

Well done NPR!
[User Picture]From: brannonb
2008-09-02 11:46 pm (UTC)

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A well-deserved tip of the hat, Javi. Congrats!
 
[User Picture]From: dianak
2008-09-02 11:50 pm (UTC)

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My boyfriend and I have really enjoyed catching the show randomly one day while flipping. Only thing on ABC Family I watch.

Friended you yesterday, btw.
[User Picture]From: kat_rowe
2008-09-02 11:50 pm (UTC)

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You've been mentioned on NPR and you have people cosplaying your characters. You must be in Geek HEAVEN!!! I know I would be...
[User Picture]From: youngwilliam
2008-09-03 12:06 am (UTC)

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All they have to do is get signed on for another season or two (please please please!) and the rest is gravy.
[User Picture]From: ducttapesnakes
2008-09-03 12:47 am (UTC)

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how exciting to be mentioned on NPR and cosplayed!
Isn't that what every creator aspires to nowadays?
:D

Congrats.
[User Picture]From: andrewhime
2008-09-03 02:15 am (UTC)

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Quien disparo a JR? wasn't a smidge ob?
:)
[User Picture]From: middlegirl
2008-09-03 02:46 am (UTC)

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What's funny is that in "Sino-Mexican," you subvert the Morales rule at the same time as you help create it. The Luchadores are pretty stereotypical, but they're not evil *because* they're Latino - heck, they're not even really evil; they're just a little misguided in trying to avenge the death of their hero/leader. And above all, the whole thing was written very funnily - it's still pretty much my favorite episode.

Creating new rules and breaking them at the same time - genius.
[User Picture]From: jacquez
2008-09-03 04:03 am (UTC)

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all I'm sayin' is...please, keep it up. With this show (or in the future, other shows). It's such a relief to be able to tune into a show that isn't aimed at some studio yutz's idea of your demographic and see...people like you. Having conversations like you might have.

_o/ art crawl!
[User Picture]From: wondersheep
2008-09-03 04:32 am (UTC)

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That is so awesome on so many levels.
[User Picture]From: dejadrew
2008-09-03 06:01 am (UTC)

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That is awesome, but... (puzzled head-tilt) What counts as "gratuitous" Spanish? And who gets to decide that?
[User Picture]From: gospelx
2008-09-03 06:32 am (UTC)

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If they ever return to the alternate universe, alterna-Dubbie should start saying "Papi" a lot.
[User Picture]From: aratama
2008-09-03 08:18 am (UTC)

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I'm so happy to hear this. <3
[User Picture]From: rhi_silverflame
2008-09-03 12:14 pm (UTC)

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Dude, this is so many freaking levels of awesome. SO MANY.
[User Picture]From: xforge
2008-09-03 03:18 pm (UTC)

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I also liked that Dubbie was appropriately outraged at having her nationality mischaracterized. I can't imagine what it'd be like to be Cuban/American and have somebody call you Mexican. Or vice versa and etc.

[User Picture]From: bearhand
2008-09-03 03:38 pm (UTC)

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Just learned of this blog. Friend, I want to thank you for producing a show that is intelligent, funny, and creative, and having one of the main characters knowledgeable about how to survive a zombie holocaust.

Monday's are now fun to watch.
[User Picture]From: auraesque
2008-09-04 02:36 am (UTC)

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Hey,

Just wanted to give you a heads up that this story warranted a mention on Jezebel.com: http://jezebel.com/5045006/must-female-movie--tv-characters-always-have-men-on-the-mind

Go you! :)
[User Picture]From: cherryblosomjen
2008-09-04 06:38 am (UTC)

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Fabulosity. I love how NPR made a call "Not [for] the number of women we see on screen, but the depth of their stories and the range of their concerns." That was beautifully put.

I'd be lying if I said that one of the reasons I love Middleman is the way it absoloutely refuses to buy into what other shows propogate as normal.
[User Picture]From: spadada
2008-10-26 08:53 pm (UTC)

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Congrats on the well deserved praise. Now I will have to assess everything I watch to see whether or not it follows The Bechdel Rule. I don't know that it will stop me from watching anything, but it will at least inform me and make me think more honestly about what I am consuming. The Deggans Rule will be a little harder. This is America and no matter what we say, we don't want our TV shows integrated. (Or, at least, this seems to be what the networks think we think.)

While I am here, let me just say that I miss this show so much. It was the highlight of the summer and ABC Family would be nuts to let it go. I hope you sent them a link to this article! Kudos to you and everyone behind the scenes!